Board of Directors (Jan 28-29)

This one and a half day event provides a full-day educational session, a business meeting and the opportunity to network with the West’s natural gas and electric utility executive community. The agenda is developed by the WEI President and Board Chair to deliver provocative discussions and identifies strategic drivers that influence energy utilities in Western North America and is driven by the yearly theme. Each year the Board of Directors convene twice, once in January/February, and the second coincides with the WEI Annual Meeting to evaluate WEI as a whole. At this meeting, the Board of Directors convene a business session to evaluate WEI’s accomplishments and determine the direction of the association.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Ronald O. Nichols, Southern California Edison

    • Program Location
    • The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey
    • 4375 Admiralty Way
      Marina del Rey, CA 90292
    • Who Should Attend
      • WEI Board of Directors members
      • Select invitees
  • Registration Options
  • This meeting is invitation only. Current WEI Board of Directors are welcome to attend free of charge along with a personal guest, (a spouse or partner who does not work in the energy industry).

    Attendee (Special Invite): $599 USD
    This includes Platinum representatives who would like to attend the full agenda on Monday. Registration includes materials, hosted reception and dinner on Sunday, and breakfast, lunch, reception and dinner on Monday.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations, cancellations received 15 business days prior to the program will receive a full refund. Cancellations received 6 to 14 business days prior to the event will receive a refund, less a $100 administrative fee. No shows and last minute cancellations, 5 business days prior to the event or less, will be responsible for the full registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the same event are always welcome.
  • Participation Policy
  • Western Energy Institute programs and events are open to energy companies (including gas production and electric generation, gas and electric transmission and gas and electric distribution utilities). Select programs and events are open to energy industry product and service suppliers. Programs and events are closed to all media representatives and to the general public.
  • For more information contact Anna Sanger Reed, Director of Customer + Corporate Programs at (503) 688-2795.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Executive Committee - Business Session

Committee members only

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Welcome Reception + Dinner

Sponsored by Burns & McDonnell

Monday, January 29, 2018

7:30 AM - 8:00 AM

Buffet Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:30 AM

From Data to Decisions: New Technology in Natural Gas Utilities
Moderator(s): Annette Gardiner, Vice President of Gas Strategic Development, Itron, Inc.
Panelist(s): Nathan Carter, Vice President, Edmonton Region Operations, ATCO Gas, Vaughn Shosted, Vice President, Western Distribution Operations, Dominion Energy, Ron Snedic, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Gas Technology Institute, Gillian Wright, Vice President, Customer Services, Southern California Gas Company

This panel will discuss how layers of data from the plethora of devices and sensors help natural gas transmission and distribution companies excel. Hear how companies are improving asset and outage management through predictive analysis, situational awareness, and artificial intelligence. We will explore how big data from the latest sensor technology is being used most effectively now, and how our panelists plan to use predictive analytics and machine learning in the future. 

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM


10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

The Connected Utility
Moderator(s): Hugo van Nispen, CEO, BRIDGE Energy Group
Panelist(s): David Lebeter, Vice President, Field & Grid Operations, BC Hydro, Pat Hogan, Senior Vice President of Electric Operations, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Marc Ulrich, VP of Customer Programs and Services, Southern California Edison, Frank Almaraz, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, CPS Energy

“The connected utility” has a clear and strategic interface between operations and customer service to improve customer satisfaction and overall performance. Our panelists will discuss how their companies have successfully synchronized operations work with their customers’ experiences and expectations. We will focus on what steps should be taken from data acquisition to analytics to maximize system performance. 

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

The Challenges and Opportunities for Natural Gas in California
Moderator(s): Deborah Affonsa, Vice President, Customer Service, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Panelist(s): Arne Olson, Partner, E3, Ronald Nichols, President, Southern California Edison, Bret Lane, President and Chief Operating Officer, Southern California Gas Company

This panel will discuss new strict regulations, the future of natural gas given the legislative and political environment moves toward 100% renewable, and opportunities for natural gas. Panelists will also discuss what their companies are doing around clean transportation, electrification and compressed natural gas.

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM


2:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Operationalizing Risk Management to Strengthen your Business Position
Moderator(s): Grant Davies, Management Consulting Principal, Accenture Inc
Panelist(s): Diana Day, VP, Enterprise Risk Management & Compliance, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Janaize Markland, Director, Enterprise Risk Management, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Ram Sastry, Vice President - Infrastructure & Business Continuity, AEP, Philip DeCicco, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Regulatory, National Grid

Utilities have always managed risks to maintain a successful business model. In the wake of significant and high-profile incidents, regulators across North America are asking questions about the safety of utility energy delivery systems (both electrical and gas). This is leading to new regulatory policies and requirements that are focused on improving the way utilities manage risks, particularly in operational risk management. This constantly evolving environment presents a variety of challenges that can make it more difficult to balance safety with reliability and affordability. For utility leadership, the question is how to go beyond regulatory requirements to operationalize risk management and strengthen their business position while meeting reliability and affordability goals.

4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

Board of Directors - Business Session

Board members only

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Board Reception + Dinner

Sponsored by Henkels & McCoy, Inc.

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (855) 556-3478 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $269/night. This rate is guaranteed until January 5, 2018 or until the WEI room block is full.

Program Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors
Aclara-01-01Booz-01Bridge-01Burns + McDonnell-01Copperleaf-01HDR-01Henkels + McCoy-01Honeywell-01Itron-01-01KPMG-01KS Energy Services-01Landis+Gyr-01Picarro-01Potelco-01PWC-01Rokstad-01-01SAP-01Sheffield-01Siemens-01Tendril-01

Gold Sponsors:
ABDD-01ActiveTelesource-01AmecFoster-01Acros-01Asplundh-01Barnard-01Black + Veatch-01Esource-01Energy Care-01EnergyOttawa-01HGCA-01IBM-01Intel-01Intren-01Leidos-01Mears-01Milwaukee-01Mosaic-01-01Nexant-01PrintRicoh-01SEL-01-01     snelson_300dpiTDW-03-01The HDD Company-01Towers Watson-01Trimble-01Underground Construction-01vertexone logo w-tagline NEWWilson Construction-01

Meet The Speakers

Annette Gardiner

Itron, Inc.

Vice President of Gas Strategic Development
Learn More

Annette Gardiner joined Itron in September 2016 as its Vice President, Gas Strategic Development. Prior to joining Itron, Annette held leadership roles in the gas utility industry including Vice President at Consumers Energy and President of New Mexico Gas Company.

Gardiner has held leadership positions in engineering, operations, rates and regulatory affairs, and president of a natural gas utility in a career spanning over 25 years.

Gardiner has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University and an Executive Masters of Business Administration degree from Michigan State University. She is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and New Mexico.

In 2014, Gardiner was awarded the Maverick Award from Midwest Energy Association’s Energetic Women group for advancing opportunities for women in engineering and operating roles in the utility industry. In 2013, Gardiner was inducted into the Academy of Engineers at Michigan Technological University for career achievement.

Nathan Carter


Vice President, Edmonton Region Operations
Learn More

Nathan Carter is the Vice President, Engineering for ATCO’s Natural Gas division. As a member of the senior leadership team, he is responsible for overseeing the division’s capital programs as well as engineering, procurement, warehousing, graphics and land. Mr. Carter joined ATCO in 2001 as an Engineer and has held increasingly responsible positions in the following years. He has more than 17 years of operations, construction and engineering experience in the natural gas industry.

Mr. Carter was born Alberta and he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta. He is a member of APEGA and currently serves with the Western Energy Institute as a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Carter also serves on the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce Energy and Environment Policy Committee and well as on the Executive Operations committee for the Canadian Energy Pipelines Association.

Mr. Carter resides in Edmonton, is married to Erin and has two daughters. In his spare time Nathan enjoys mountain biking, playing hockey, skiing and camping.

Hugo van Nispen

BRIDGE Energy Group


David Lebeter

BC Hydro

Vice President, Field & Grid Operations
Learn More

Graduating from UBC in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Engineering David spent the first 23 years of his career in the Forest Industry. In 1986 he moved into lumber manufacturing, working and living in several communities in British Columbia. During this time David progressed through mill management culminating as Mill Manager. As Mill Manager he was responsible for all aspects of operation including safety, profitability, customer and product selection. Returning to Vancouver in 1991 David joined the Executive Masters of Business Administration program at SFU, graduating in 1994.

In 2003, on behalf of International Forest Products, David started a wholly owned subsidiary in the People’s Republic of China. The enterprise engaged in manufacturing engineered lumber products for the Japanese and Chinese markets.

In January 2005 David joined BC Hydro as General Manager, Peace River Generation. Over the next two and a half years he held positions of increasing responsibility within Generation. Midway through 2007 he assumed responsibility for Generation Operations. This department was responsible for the safe and efficient operation of BC Hydro’s generation stations, Dam Safety, Asset Management, Environmental & Social Issues and Resource Management.

In November 2010 David joined Transmission & Distribution as the Vice President of Field Operations & Safety. FO maintains, operates, and restores approximately 18,000 kilometres of transmission line and 57,000 kilometers of distribution line in BC Hydro’s service area. As Vice President, David oversees a scope of work that includes distribution service connections, meeting the needs of customers, building new infrastructure, restoring outages, maintaining and operating the distribution and transmission system, including non-integrated areas, and more.

Marc Ulrich

Southern California Edison

VP of Customer Programs and Services

Arne Olson



Bret Lane

Southern California Gas Company

President and Chief Operating Officer

Ronald Nichols

Southern California Edison

Learn More

Ronald O. (R.O.) Nichols is president of Southern California Edison (SCE). He is responsible for external affairs, compliance, power production and procurement, and other operations. He is a member of SCE’s board of directors.

Nichols has more than 35 years of experience in the electric and water utility industry. He has been a strategic and operational advisor to utilities, state and local government, power suppliers and the financial community on complex energy and utility matters throughout the United States, particularly in the West.

Previously, Nichols was senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Nuclear for SCE, overseeing regulatory policy and affairs, regulatory operations and environmental affairs.

Prior to joining SCE in 2014, Nichols served for three years as General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), where he provided leadership for the utility in supplying reliable and competitively priced water and electricity while continuing to maintain and implement environmentally conscious policies and priorities.

Previously, Nichols was a managing director at the energy practice of Navigant Consulting, an international consulting organization with over 2,000 employees. From 1980 to 1997, before his position at Navigant, he was a co-founder and Senior Vice President of the energy and water utility consulting firm, Resource Management International, which was headquartered in Sacramento with offices throughout North America and in Europe and Asia. Prior to starting his energy and water utility consulting career in 1980, he held positions with the California Department of Water Resources and the California Energy Commission.

Nichols is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a degree in agricultural economics and business management.

Grant Davies

Accenture Inc

Management Consulting Principal

Diana Day

San Diego Gas & Electric Company

VP, Enterprise Risk Management & Compliance

Janaize Markland

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Director, Enterprise Risk Management

Pat Hogan

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Senior Vice President of Electric Operations

Vaughn Shosted

Dominion Energy

Vice President, Western Distribution Operations
Learn More

Vaughn retired from Dominion Energy in 2018 as Vice President of Operations after 43 years. He has 2 children and 5 grandchildren. Has been married to his wife, Nancy for 42 years.

Ronald Snedic

Gas Technology Institute

Senior Vice President, Corporate Development

Frank Almaraz

CPS Energy

Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations

Deborah Affonsa

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Vice President, Customer Service
Learn More

Deborah T. Affonsa is vice president, Customer Service for Pacific Gas and Electric Company. She is responsible for the company’s contact center operations, local customer service offices, business customer account management and demand side management sales, relations with third party energy service providers, customer education for PG&E’s most impactful work and initiatives, and escalated customer relations, and for the Customer Care organization.

Her previous role at Pacific Gas and Electric Company was Vice President, Corporate Strategy, reporting to the president. In this role, Affonsa was responsible for driving development and implementation of a detailed, integrated, cross-functional 5 year forward -looking plan for achieving and maintaining the company’s vision of becoming the leading utility in the United States. She also identified emerging trends in the utility industry, recognizing interdependencies, potential synergies and conflicts to assist senior management in prioritizing and making decisions. She also managed the company’s benchmarking and continuous improvement efforts.

Prior to joining Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Affonsa held the position of Senior Director, Corporate Strategy and Development, for its holding company, PG&E Corporation. There she was responsible for evaluating potential new business opportunities, managing the corporate-wide strategic planning process and leading teams in the evaluation and development of Utility strategies around key issues (Smart Grid, PV, etc.).

Affonsa has additional experience in the utility industry, serving as Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for Community Energy, Inc., a privately held, start-up, wind energy company. In that role, she established the strategic sales plan, including revenue, earnings and market share goals both regionally and nationally, as well as developing the internal processes and procedures for running a start-up. Affonsa was also Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for Marlin Leasing Corporation, where she developed strategic sales initiatives and oversaw the realignment and restructuring of the National Account’s sales team.

Prior to that, Affonsa was Chief Operating Officer and Director, New Business Development, for Marketing Crossroads, Inc.; Director, Strategic Planning, for Exelon Corporation; and Vice President and Director, Sales, for Exelon Energy.

Affonsa holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University and a Masters in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania. She also successfully participated in the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 2000.

Ram Sastry


Vice President - Infrastructure & Business Continuity

Philip DeCicco

National Grid

Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Regulatory

Gillian Wright

Southern California Gas Company

Vice President, Customer Services
Learn More

Gillian Wright is chief human resources and administrative officer of Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), a Sempra Energy regulated California utility. She is responsible for the SoCalGas human resources, safety, fleet, facilities, environmental services, supply management and logistics organizations.

Previously, as vice president, customer services for SoCalGas, Wright oversaw the company’s interaction with customers, including the call centers, field activities, billing and payments, and was responsible for completing a $1 billion project to deploy nearly six million advanced meters.

She joined SoCalGas as a regulatory analyst in 1999 and has served in a variety of roles in regulatory affairs and customer service for Sempra since then.

Wright is a member of the board of the California State University Foundation, LA Family Housing, Western Energy Institute and Los Angeles Business Council. She is also past chair and a former member of the board for the Energy Solutions Center and a graduate of Leadership California. Wright holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Reed College.